The phrase ‘patience is a virtue’ has been known through the ages and across the world. More than ever, it feels like the entrepreneurial community has abandoned this virtue for the lusty pursuit of expediency. It feels like patience is regarded as just a relic of a long passed slow-paced business cycle. The belief that those who hesitate are lost, and one must strike while the iron is hot (insert additional metaphors) to be successful causes many entrepreneurs to throw themselves irrationally towards ill-timed opportunities. There is still a virtue in delayed gratification; believe me, doing it right is more important than doing it right now.
I spend most of my time these days helping companies and CEOs craft their story for the market. I see hundreds of company presentations and business outlines, with most of them looking to raise money to launch or expand their business venture. Far too often, I see these entrepreneurs effectively ‘rushing’ into the market. They often find themselves battling questions, objections, and rejections they could have avoided with a little more time, experience, and patience. There is too much emphasis on being ‘first to market’ and not nearly enough on being ‘best to market’.
I coach many CEOs to have patience and wait for the right time or opportunity, rather than jump at the first joint venture, partnership, or funding option that comes along. I’ve seen some of the most impressive companies, and the most robust deals come from those that were willing to wait it out.
One of the most dynamic examples of patience being a winning entrepreneurial strategy is the story of the ‘godfather of the medical cannabis movement’, Alan Shackelford.
You may have heard of Dr. Shackleford from the Sanjay Gupta documentary ‘Weed’ on CNN. At the time, Dr. Shackelford was the doctor at the center of the wildly controversial treatment of 6-year-old Charlotte Figi. Horrific seizures debilitated Charlotte, and her parents moved to Colorado to try cannabis to combat her rare form of epilepsy. Dr. Shackelford risked his license and livelihood to take Charlotte on as a patient. He helped formulate the cannabis treatment that proved so effective it stunned the medical community and jumpstarted the cannabis industry. The results turned Sanjay Gupta into a cannabis advocate and rocketed Alan to prominence in the use of cannabis for medical treatments.
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Since then, Dr. Shackleford has been approached numerous times to start a multitude of cannabis businesses. When companies were rushing to go public to cash in on the first overtures of legalization, Alan refused to jump into the shallow end for the quick dollar. He decided to stay with his practice and continue expanding his knowledge base. Today, Dr. Shackleford has treated more than 25,000 patients and has developed what many in the industry consider the most advanced database for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis treatments. Alan waited patiently for the right timing and opportunity to launch his company, Shackelford Pharma, and now his patience (and his patients) are being rewarded.
In working with Alan, I was curious why he had waited so long. “The industry was focused on wrapping recreational marijuana in a medical package, without the appropriate data and research. I just knew there was a bigger opportunity if we looked at cannabis and cannabinoids as a pharmaceutical treatment,” he explained. “I saw the results with my patients; I just needed to find the right partners who shared my vision.”
From a business and funding perspective, Shackelford Pharma successfully registered their Reg A with the SEC and is essentially ‘crowdfunding’ the growth of the company. His patients and thousands of supporters have made the offering a success in ways that weren’t available just a few years ago. More importantly, for Alan, the company will answer to a collection of personally motivated investors and not faceless bankers or venture vultures.
Dr. Shackelford is a remarkable example of how patience and timing can fuel opportunity. And it’s the example I use when I speak to business schools and entrepreneurial seminars. It helps me illustrate the two key advantages of being a patient entrepreneur.
Advantage 1: You get better with age and experience. In an entrepreneurial venture, mistakes are costly, and you don’t want to be ‘learning on the job’. There is a romanticized version of the entrepreneur that throws caution to the wind and’ figures it out as we go’. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, it’s not pretty. My investor network is infinitely more interested in businesses started or run by purposeful and experienced leaders who have developed and perfected a valuable set of skills.
Advantage 2: The right opportunity will find you. The first person to offer you money or the first business interested in a joint venture is rarely the right fit. Many entrepreneurs make decisions in the early stages because they are not confident enough to play the long game. If you have a great idea, a solid business model, and a track record of success, opportunities will find you.
Don’t let the pace of the current business culture impact your decisions. Don’t let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) drive your timing. You’ll find that patience is still a virtue that can pay exponential dividends.
more information about Shackelford Pharma or Dr. Alan Shackelford here